Berrien Co. Sheriff discusses nationwide issues with recruitment

NOW: Berrien Co. Sheriff discusses nationwide issues with recruitment

NILES, Mich. -- Police departments across the country are struggling with recruiting officers and it comes as a new study revealed 2021 was the deadliest year for police.

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said it’s an issue departments have seen for the past three years, but the pandemic and calls for police reform have only intensified the problem. 

“Let’s hope things change because we all know we don’t have good communities without proper law enforcement,” said Sheriff Bailey.

Bailey said across Berrien County’s 21 police agencies, most are struggling with long-vacant positions. 

“When things get tough, we need people to step up if you have a service attitude, like people who join the military, they want to serve and protect this country,” he said. 

But it goes further than just filling jobs.

Bailey said there’s been a trend nationwide with less people wanting to even join the academy.

“With the civil unrest, certain cities talking about defunding the police, some of the bargaining things have been taken away like retiring after 25 years, people decided law enforcement isn’t a profession they wanted to get into.”

A new report adds another cause for concern.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund found that 2021 was the deadliest year for law enforcement in U.S. history. 

Deaths went up 55 percent – nearly 200 more officers losing their lives – many being firearm or traffic-related. 

So, how do you inspire people to become police? 

Sheriff Bailey said remembering officers’ true role – serving your community –  and trusting that the bad eggs will be held accountable.

“We’ve got to change people's minds,” said Sheriff Bailey. “We don’t want bad law enforcement, if an officer did something wrong, they’re going to have their day in court.”

Sheriff Bailey recommended to anyone considering being an officer to just call your local police department and talk with the chief, then ask to take a ride and see what they do in a day before you decide if it’s the right path.

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